The supposition that the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus was a long-delayed massive outlier compared to other nations won’t wash. Comparing the U.S. response to four major European nations demonstrates a general consistency in speed of response beyond first diagnosis of Covid-19.
The first coronavirus case reported in the United States came on January 21, of a 35-year-old man who had returned from Wuhan, China. The first reported case in France occurred on January 24, of a case reported in Bordeaux and one in the Paris area. In Great Britain, the first reported case came when two patients tested positive on January 29. Italy’s came on January 30, when two cases were confirmed in Rome; Spain’s first reported case came on January 31, when a German tourist tested positive in the Canary Islands.
The first death reported from the coronavirus in the respective countries were reported to have occurred in Spain on February 13, a 69-year-old man who died in Valencia; France on February 15, as a Chinese tourist died in a hospital in Paris; Italy on February 21, when a 78-year-old man died at a hospital in Padua; the United States on February 28, when a death was reported near Seattle, Washington, and Great Britain on March 5, when a woman in her 70s was reported to have died from the virus.
In the United States, the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared a public health emergency on January 31, the same day the Italian government declared a state of emergency. President Trump declared a national emergency on March 13 and also announced “15 days to slow the spread” coronavirus guidance on March 16.
On March 14, the Spanish government declared a two-week state of emergency and instituted a lockdown; on March 16, French President Macron announced mandatory home confinement for 15 days, and the same day, during his first daily press briefing, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson urged U.K. citizens to work from home and avoid pubs and restaurants. The French Assemblée National approved on March 21 a legal text that would introduce a “state of health emergency.”
Additionally, the Trump administration banned travel from China on January 31, as did Italy. The United Kingdom and France took no such action, as The Washington Post acknowledged. An official with the Trump administration noted, “President Trump asserted global leadership by making the U.S. the first major economic power to announce restrictions on foreign nationals traveling from China. The President’s swift decision came only one day after the World Health Organization declared novel coronavirus outbreak a public health emergency of international concern. The President’s decisiveness paved the way for other nations to follow suit, saving countless lives around the world.”
The claim that somehow the Trump administration was tremendously behind the governments of other countries in addressing the coronavirus crisis seems to be inaccurate. Japan, for example, had not declared a state of emergency until last week; Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said last week, “In Japan, even if we declare a state of emergency, we will not close cities as seen in foreign countries. Experts have told us that there is no need for such a step.”